Revolutionising Attendance: Why Mental Health Should Be Every HR’s Priority

 Absenteeism, the habitual pattern of absence from work or duty, has evolved into a pressing issue for employers around the world. While missing a day or two might not seem like much, the accumulated cost of absenteeism can cripple businesses both in financial terms and in lost productivity. More often than not, the root of absenteeism is not sheer laziness or negligence. In numerous instances, mental health challenges lurk behind these unattended desks.

Absenteeism: More Than Just Missed Days

  1. Economic Impact: Employers face direct costs due to absenteeism, including paid sick leave. However, the hidden costs can be more substantial: temporary replacements, decreased productivity, and administrative costs. The losses are estimated to be in billions annually for businesses globally.
  2. Decreased Productivity: An absent employee can lead to a chain reaction. Tasks get delayed, and other employees might need to shoulder additional responsibilities, leading to stress and reduced morale.
  3. Impact on Team Dynamics: Prolonged absenteeism can strain professional relationships. Team members might feel resentful or demoralized, affecting the overall workplace environment.

The Mental Health Connection

The connection between mental health and absenteeism is stark. Issues such as depression, anxiety, burnout, and stress are among the top reasons for missing work. The World Health Organization (WHO) even states that depression and anxiety have a significant potential to reduce labor force participation and productivity.

Unfortunately, there’s still a stigma around mental health in many workplaces. Employees might not feel comfortable disclosing their mental health challenges or seeking support due to fear of judgment or potential career repercussions.

The Value of Mental Health Support

  1. Early Intervention: By offering mental health resources, employers can provide early intervention, potentially preventing minor issues from snowballing into severe problems leading to extended absences.
  2. Boosted Productivity: Employees who feel mentally and emotionally supported are more likely to be engaged and productive. They can focus on their tasks without the cloud of personal issues hanging over them.
  3. Retention: Supporting mental health can also be a deciding factor for many employees when choosing an employer or deciding whether to stay with their current one.
  4. Creating a Safe Environment: An environment where mental health is prioritized makes employees feel valued. It also aids in breaking the stigma, allowing more open conversations and collaboration.

Taking Action: What Employers Can Do

  1. Promote Awareness: Regularly discuss the importance of mental health, ensuring employees understand it’s as vital as physical health.
  2. Provide Resources: This could be in the form of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), counseling services, workshops, or even meditation and relaxation zones in the office.
  3. Flexible Work Arrangements: Offering flexible working hours or remote working opportunities can ease the pressures of personal and professional life, thereby improving mental wellbeing.
  4. Training for Managers: Equip managers with the skills to recognize signs of mental distress and to approach such situations with empathy and discretion.

In conclusion, it’s clear that absenteeism, particularly when rooted in mental health issues, presents a severe challenge to employers. However, with the right approach and resources, businesses can not only tackle absenteeism but also cultivate a work environment where every employee feels valued, understood, and supported. By investing in mental health, employers are investing in the foundation of their business: the well-being and productivity of their employees.

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